Inside Look at Kukai Ramen and Izakaya in Bellevue


An authentic ramen restaurant finally opened in Bellevue. Growing up on the eastside (Bellevue) and going to school at Newport High School, it’s about time we’re finally seeing some non-chainy type restaurants.

The restaurant has been officially open for 2 weeks now and has already grew in popularity and has formed lines out the door.  The original idea was started by co-franchisees Nuri Ayindel and Brandon Ting from the love of the Kukai ramen as they found something very special for its thin, salty tonkotsu gyoukai broth and chilled tsukemen dishes. After many conversations, the business was established.

“We are passionate about our ramen. Our philosophy is to serve the most traditional, authentic and delicious Japanese ramen that you can possibly have without actually flying to Japan. Come slurp a bowl and join us in our passion.” —Owners

The restaurant is situated in an area with ample parking but getting a seat will require some patience. With it’s recent launch, locals and ramen fanatics have lined up out the door to try the authentic Japanese noodles for themselves. After getting inside, the restaurant went with an open concept kitchen as guests can look straight into chefs prepping and cooking the dishes.

Overall, an amazing restaurant that lives up to the hype and is worth waiting for. Ingredients are fresh, dishes taste authentic, clean decor and great service.

The Yuzu Shio Ramen ($11) is cooked in a Japanese citrus base, giving it a light, “easy to drink with two hands,” tangy soup base that goes nicely with the French sea salt of the pork and vegetables. The noodles in this dish are slightly thinner than the Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen dish.
Menu: French sea salt, kelp, Japanese citrus base.
The Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen is Kukai’s most popular ramen dish, its pork broth is comfortingly thick, rich in flavor, yet easy on the palate. The noodles are slightly thicker than the other ramen dishes and has the perfect slightly firm texture. The tonkotsu is grilled and placed in the soup to give it a salty and sweet combination with the soup. All the ingredients just come together really nicely.Menu: Rich pork broth flavored with Yamaguchi soy sauce and topped with burnt garlic oil.

The Takoyaki Octopus Dumplings ($5) is my favorite item on the menu, it comes out beautifully plated and hot out of the oven. The texture of the dumpling is perfectly crusted and topped with Kezuribushi “bonito flakes,” Japanese mayo, Takoyaki sauce and a Powdered nori. As you bite inside, its creamy, salty, sweet all in one.

The KuKai Chicken Wings ($6.50) is another great dish to try as it’s cooked perfectly and soaked in a tangy, vinegar sauce that’s not overpowering and lightly coated. The wings are large in size, crispy, and go perfectly without any sauce.

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